Post

New Paper by PK President Demonstrates Importance of Existing Antitrust and Economic Regulation

August 7, 2015 , , , ,

Click here to download Antitrust and Economic Regulation: Essential and Complementary Tools to Maximize Consumer Welfare and Freedom of Expression in the Digital Age.

Thanks to recent antitrust enforcement and communications regulation, consumers continue to reap the benefits of exploding Internet entertainment, as well as educational and business opportunities.  By facing down the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner, and by establishing strong net neutrality rules, the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission have protected Internet users from discrimination and promoted broadband innovations that are critical to our democracy and essential to freedom of expression.

In a newly published article for the Harvard Journal of Law and Policy, PK President Gene Kimmelman and Mark Cooper (Director of Research at the Consumer Federation of America) argue that these results could only be achieved through existing antitrust and economic regulations, and other similar results require effective application of both bodies of law in tandem to protect our democracy and achieve the full economic and social benefit that the Internet can deliver. You can read the paper, entitled Antitrust and Economic Regulation: Essential and Complementary Tools to Maximize Consumer Welfare and Freedom of Expression in the Digital Age, here.

Because the Comcast/Time Warner Cable review created a new standard in combined antitrust and Federal Communications Commission enforcement practices, law enforcement entities are well positioned to make sure the proposed Charter/Time Warner Cable merger lives up to the most exacting public interest test.  Similarly, having already committed significant concessions related to open internet policies, it is clear that recent enforcement actions send a clear signal that the Obama Administration is dedicated to ensuring open affordable access to meaningful broadband services and a competitive Internet ecosystem that supports online video distribution and freedom of expression.

Kimmelman explains that while we can and should update laws to address gaps in what antitrust law and the Communications Act cannot effectively address, current policy tools, when appropriately and thoroughly applied and enforced by policymakers, are adequate to address several goals. These include providing consumers better and more affordable broadband services, preventing efforts to block the growing explosion of new online video services, and preventing monopolistic practices harmful to freedom of expression and competition on communications platforms.

Adequate antitrust enforcement and communications policy application has the potential to unleash innovations that support social and economic opportunities that are necessary to achieve a more just and democratic society. The existing tools available to policymakers can and should be applied to the current challenges ahead in telecom policy, including the tech transitions, expansion of universal service to include broadband access, and competition in the video marketplace.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons user PER9000